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Port Moody boosts city fees — but some are going lower

The clock is ticking for Port Moody to implement tiered water and sewer rates. Meanwhile, fees for most other city services will be going up by about two per cent next year.
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Port Moody is looking at implementing a tiered system for water and sewer rates that would give a break to residents in affordable housing types.

Most city services in Port Moody are going to cost you more next year. 

But some fees will be getting a bigger boost than average while some residents could be paying less for others.

In a staff report presented to council last Tuesday (Nov. 9), fees for services like business licenses, impounded pets, permits, using one of the city’s electric vehicle chargers and renting a room at a civic facility will increase by about two per cent.

But if you’re a street performer, you’ll pay 20 per cent more for a license to pull out your guitar and lay down your hat on the sidewalk.

According to Port Moody’s manager of financial planning, Tyson Ganske, the five dollar increase for a street performer license in the city is to help cover SOCAN licensing and rights fees for music. 

Currently, Ganske writes in his report, the city pays more for those fees than it takes in from permits.

“The goal is to raise the permit fee over the next few years in order to fully cover this cost.”

As well, it’s also going to cost you 20–72 per cent more if you’re planning to demolish your house.

Ganske said an adjustment in the fees based on the square footage of structures to be demolished had to be made to ensure compliance to the rules and to encourage the recycling of demolition waste. Most of the fee is refunded if the building’s owner can show evidence that waste hasn’t gone to a landfill.

However, Port Moody’s youth are in line for a price break for drop-in programs after a motion put forth by Count. Steve Milani to limit those fees to $2 was passed.

“COVID is hitting the youth hard,” he said. “We have to welcome the youth. We have to offer them things to do and keep busy.”

As for water and sewage fees, those are still undetermined while council fine tunes a plan to give homeowners living in smaller, more affordable accommodation like condos, secondary suites and laneway houses a break. That would also mean increasing the proportion of those fees paid by owners of single-family homes and townhouses.

Currently, all homes in the city pay the same flat rate.

In a presentation to council on Oct. 5, Port Moody’s general manager of financial services, Paul Rockwood, said the adjusted fees would be an interim measure while the city continues to study the costs and implications of eventually installing meters on all homes and business. He added other municipalities around Metro Vancouver have adopted similar tiered rate structures in anticipation of a move to meters.

As yet, only Richmond and Vancouver are currently fully metered.

In his report, Ganske said tiering water and sewer rates by housing type takes into account fewer people likely live in individual condo units, secondary suites and laneway houses, putting less usage pressure on fixed costs like dams, filtration and pipe maintenance.

Under one scheme council is considering, owners of condos would get a break of $116 on the flat rate for water services of $592, while owners of secondary suites and laneway houses would realize a savings of about $205.

Last Tuesday, council threw another variable into the works when it requested the break on water and sewer rates also be extended to non-profit housing units.

But Rockwood said time is running out for staff to calculate the impact of such a change on the rates for other types of housing. He suggested a special meeting of council would then need to be held to approve the tiering scheme if it’s to be in place by early in the new year when bills are being prepared to be sent to residents.